July 27, 2023
Three Questions to: Tiny Roar on their partnership with AONIC
Tiny Roar has become a small institution here in Hamburg since its founding in 2015, both with their original titles, such as their current project "Wanderful" and through collaboration with other studios. This week they announced their partnership with the Swedish investor AONIC, who is now the majority shareholder of Tiny Roar. We took this opportunity to speak to one of the two founders, Maurice Hagelstein, about what this news means for the studio and its future.
This is a major change in your studio structure, so how will this partnership with AONIC impact your future plans and what opportunities will it open up for you?
Thanks to the AONIC collective, we are not only financially stable, but we have an in-house publishing division where we see eye to eye. It’s not a tug-o-war, since the money stays in the collective and everyone benefits in the end, when the project runs well. No need for compromises, that leave you grinding your teeth afterwards.
Game-wise, we can start growing our expertise, since we get to decide what games we do next and have more time and budget working on them, instead of being ready for any opportunity to keep the company afloat. Of course, we need to have a proper business case and prototype before we can kick-start a production, but you always should have that, before wasting your and everybody else’s money anyway.
On top of that, we can afford the biggest luxury of game development: Focus. Less hustle, more game development.
You already mentioned your studio will grow a bit thanks to this new opportunity. Can you tell us (and potential applicants) a bit about your working culture and do you anticipate any changes with this new structure? Also, what's important to you when looking for new people to join?
At Tiny Roar we invite everyone to shape the company, its games and future with us. We encourage everyone to improve something they don’t like. When Robert and I founded the company, we wrote a company principle guide book, that was mainly influenced about the things we wanted to improve in our old jobs. And one key element of that is, that you should always be able to have an effect on your workplace apart from your daily work. If you are spending so much time of your life working, then you should be able to have the best possible experience.
Apart from that, we can just say how much in love we are with our teams. We were able to nurture a safe space for all kinds of people and will continue to do so, even with the increased hiring rate.
When we scout for new talents, it is important to us that you openly live your passion, are excited to learn new things and comfortable wearing multiple hats. We are looking for experts in certain fields in Lead positions, for example, but on the projects themselves we see the best results when people don’t focus on their department but actually try out new stuff.
In Lou’s Lagoon, our (character) animator Niklas built most of the flying mechanics for example, because he wanted to make sure, it felt juicy enough. Collaborating outside your comfort zone is a great way to grow in our experience.
For Indie Studios who want to go a similar route to yours: Can you tell us more about how this partnership came to be? Any tips or recommendations?
The partnership came to be very organically, with me meeting up with Olli, who is an old colleague from way back, during last year’s Gamescom. We always kept in touch and shared our network insights with each other. So I would recommend to you that you stay close with your former peers. But networking is nothing without good projects, so don’t lose focus on doing a good job.
Also, when negotiating terms, be honest and tell your potential partner what you expect. It is basically like talking to a publisher, just on steroids and with way bigger repercussions for your personal life. Also: Get lawyers that help you navigate the pantheon of paragraphs.
We got similar offers over the past years as well, and if you have a weird feeling, make sure where it comes from. Our partnership took 11 months to cook from the initial chat at Gamescom, until we eventually signed with a very good conscience. Make a good ol’ fashioned pro/con list and figure out which of the points are reasonable, emotionally charged or even romantic and focus on making a decision that benefits the company and your employees.
Interested in joining the studio after reading this? They are currently hiring: https://tinyroar.notion.site/Open-Positions-71da8e2c99774d8b8f6147120d8b4935